Law enforcement officers raided a common room at Manchester University, which resulted in £800 fines for students.
Manchester police discovered a ‘large gathering’ in an accommodation hall, despite the lockdown restrictions in place. The police and Manchester University were accused of using heavy-handed tactics by both parents and students to disperse those at Owens Hall residence.
Police entered the residence twice over the course of the last weekend; once on Friday at 11 p.m. and at 2.30 a.m. on Sunday after receiving calls about students flouting government guidelines.
‘‘We understand these are extremely difficult times, but we have been clear and consistent with our messaging around student conduct and behaviour in halls and residence’’Manchester University spokesperson
Several students described the situation as extremely distressed, with one student stating: ‘People were traumatised by it, we were literally just having dinner with friends’. Whilst another student said police van’s arrived with 10-15 officers that then dispersed around the accommodation.
Despite COVID-19 laws stating police do not have the power to enter premises unless a warrant is granted, any 'authorised' staff member from accommodations can authorise the search. This is due to the university’s contract terms, which also mean that the search can be done without prior notice.
Manchester University introduced COVID-19 guidelines for those in student accommodation which outlined: ‘If you are living in households that are corridor based then we have identified rooms (maximum of 15) that will be designated as a household and you will be enquired to ensure that you use facilities which are for your household only’.
Greater Manchester Police stated that the ‘pro-active’ patrols were agreed with Manchester University
Students have become increasingly wary of police presence over recent weeks with one student. Student Izzy Smitheman tweeted: ‘Police again roaming University…stressful and damaging to students’ mental health.’
Upon the incident, Greater Manchester Police stated that the ‘pro-active’ patrols were agreed with Manchester University prior to the confrontation between officers and students and that those fined showed a ‘blatant disregard’ for government guidelines.
When reviewing the altercation, a university spokesman stated, ‘We understand these are extremely difficult times, but we have been clear and consistent with our messaging around student conduct and behaviour in halls and residence’.
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